From The Wall Street Journal:
Jarod Reyes wanted to reduce his anxiety. His doctor suggested meditation, so he subscribed to a podcast to guide him toward a Zen state.
“Close your eyes,” the podcaster’s voice would intone languidly over instrumental music. “Take a slow, deep breath.” But something about it made him anxious. The episodes were too long; it was hard to focus.
He knew what he had to do. Now the 35-year-old web developer sets the podcast to run faster, forcing its hypnotherapist to make it snappy with her soothing thoughts. “On the exhale, allow yourself to settle in,” she hurries along at double speed. “Maybe roll your shoulders back. Or wiggle your hips a bit.”
He found inner peace. “It’s much easier for me to sit focused for 10 minutes,” Mr. Reyes says, “than 20 minutes.”
How do people have so much time for so many podcasts? Some don’t. They speed-listen and knock out two, three, four podcasts in the time one usually takes.
Geoff Newman, 31, thought a colleague who told him about speed-listening was nuts. Then the London web developer and filmmaker tried 1.2 times normal speed, then 2x, then 2.5x. Now he’s comfortable at 3x.
It’s painful to consume his favorite tech and videogame podcasts at actual speed. “It sounds so strange,” he says. “Like they’re smoking lots of weed.”
. . . .
When ESPN anchor Rachel Nichols moved to Los Angeles last year, she discovered she could squeeze two full podcasts into her drive to and from work if she pushed their speed to as fast as 2.3x. Ms. Nichols proselytizes the joys of speed-listening on Twitter . “I like pushing the cause,” she says.
Ms. Nichols was a guest recently on “The Lowe Post,” a show hosted by ESPN colleague Zach Lowe, and she made a plea to the audience as soon as she was introduced: “I’m going to ask everyone to now go to their app and speed up the rest of this podcast.”
. . . .
A fourfold speedup sounds entirely sane to Max Deutsch, 24, who says he has speed-listened to 69 audiobooks this year. The faster the speed, he found, the more engaged he was. “That’s when I asked myself: I wonder how fast I could actually listen?”
The San Francisco tech-product manager, unable to find apps with speeds over 3x, created Rightspeed, a $2.99 app that accelerates podcasts in nearly unnoticeable 0.1x increments every two minutes. A one-hour podcast that begins at 2x, ends at 5x and takes 17 minutes.
“It’s sort of like the Roger Bannister, four-minute-mile effect,” Mr. Deutsch says. “Until you’re told it’s possible for a human to listen at this speed, you just decide you can’t.”
When Andy Mullan, a government employee in San Francisco, checks out a library book, he downloads the audio version. He listens at 3x and follows in print. Mr. Mullan, 32, says his reading consumption has increased and his comprehension has improved.
Hundreds of thousands of Audible listeners use higher speeds, according to the audiobook company’s data. Audible says speed-listeners prefer nonfiction but do binge on mysteries and thrillers.
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)
PG has listened to accelerated audio for years. He didn’t know it was a thing until he read the OP.